A report from Gartner and some quick math from Joe Wilcox suggests that almost every single media tablet that was actually purchased by consumers during 2010 had an Apple logo on them. Gartner issued a report pegging global spending on tablets by end users in 2010 was US$9.6 billion. Joe Wilcox noted that Apple reported sales of its iPad during the year of $9.566 billion, leaving roughly $33 million for devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.
The math is very, very rough, and Gartner’s methodology isn’t likely to coincide with Apple’s internal accounting. Indeed, comparing these two sets of numbers is quite perilous, but the reality is that it puts a different face on the market share war so far in the market, which is usually measured more by sales into the channel, as opposed to sales to end users.
For instance, in March, competing research firm IDC said that Apple owned 73% of the tablet market in the December quarter of 2010, down from 93% the prior quarter. All told, Apple had 83% share for the full year, but these numbers are all based on sales into the channel. Gartner’s report, on the other hand, focused on spending, the other side of that equation.
Looking ahead, Gartner expects tablet spending to increase to $29.4 billion in 2011, a 206% increase, and the firm believes that tablet spending will increase at an average rate of 52% year-over-year through 2015.
The question will be how much of that spending Apple continues to garner. In 2010, there were few shipping competitors to the iPad, and the market continues to respond slowly to Apple’s genre-defining product, but Motorola shipped Xoom earlier this year, Samsung is likely to get new versions of its Galaxy Tab to market, and Research In Motion is set to ship the BlackBerry PlayBook in April. Other competitors should come online this year, too.
In addition, Google’s Honeycomb version of Android OS — the first version of Android actually intended for tablets — is set to ship shortly, which should allow other competitors to come to market. Will consumers actually buy them? We believe Apple will continue to dominate this market, though we hardly expect the company to maintain nearly 100% of the market (IDC said Apple would maintain 70-80% through 2011, for what that’s worth).
We should also remind our readers that the tablet market is brand new. It hasn’t even been a year since the original iPad shipped. While the marketplace is scrambling to adapt, catch up, and figure out what to do, market research firms like Gartner, IDC, and IHS iSuppli are also in the process of working out how to monitor this new market, how to report their respective findings, and in some cases, even how to define a tablet in the first place.
As such, all reports on market share and spending should be taken with a grain of salt as the industry copes with understanding this new class of device.